Lube and install the camshaft in the engine, or head, using a new timing belt or chain and gears. Align the cam using the dots on the gears, head, or
block. Mount the degree wheel to the crankshaft and the pointer to the block. Make sure the pointer is secure and doesn't move. If you ever bump it, reset it. For the Escort CVH/SPI engines, download and print the degree wheel. Print if on heavy paper, cut out, and glue it to the pulley. Make sure it prints to 5-11/16" diameter. Click here to download. See picture #1 below.
Now we must find exact top dead center (TDC). There are several ways to do this. The easiest way is to use a piston stop screwed in through the #1 cylinder spark plug hole. Make sure the #1 piston is not all the way up in the bore.
CAUTION!!! You MUST disconnect the battery and remove the rocker arms on #1 cylinder before installing the piston stop. If the engine were to be turned over it could put a hole in the piston and it's possible for the valves to contact the piston stop if they open. Turn the engine over by hand slow and easy. It will be easier if you take all the spark plugs out first.
Rotate the crankshaft slowly to the
right until you feel it contact the piston stop. Now mark location of the degree wheel. Next, turn the crankshaft to the left until it contacts the piston stop again. Mark the location. Backup the crankshaft to move the piston away from the piston stop. Then remove the piston stop from the head. Half way between the two marks is exact (TDC). Reposition the degree wheel and/or pointer and recheck. I have seen factory TDC marks up to 8 degrees off.
we need to set up a dial indicator to read the movement of the #1 cylinder's lifter movement. The indicator must be in alignment with the angle of the lifter. If not, the readings will be inaccurate. It's usually better to find a method to attach the dial indicator stand with a bolt to the head. There isn't enough steel anywhere for a magnetic base to hold. You will need to set up on the intake lifter and later the exhaust lifter.
See picture #2 below.
When taking readings, it's important to always turn the engine over clockwise. This is the direction the engine runs and it keeps he drive side of the belt tight. Turn the crankshaft until the lifter reaches the bottom of it's travel. This is called the "base circle" of the cam. Set the indicator to read "0" here. You will see that the crankshaft rotates twice for every time the camshaft rotates.
Turn the crank slowly until the intake lifter rises .050" from the base circle. Most performance cams are spec'd at .050" and .006" tappet/lifter lift. I prefer the .050" method as this gives a better indication of the lobe profile. Write down the reading from the degree wheel. This will read as "degrees before top dead center" or (BTDC) and may be a negative number on a short duration cam. Next turn the crankshaft and read the maximum lifter rise. The hand on
the dial indicator will turn several times so be sure to keep track. Most dial indicators have a second hand that tells revolutions. Then keep turning the crankshaft until the dial indicator reads .050" from the base circle and write this figure down. This will read as "degrees after bottom dead center or (ABDC).
Next, setup on the exhaust lifter and repeat the complete procedure. This time the opening figures will be "degrees before bottom dead
center" or (BBDC) and the closing figures will be "degrees after top dead center" or (ATDC). This also may be a negative number on a short duration cam.